<written May 29/08, i.e., over 2 years ago…>
My boyfriend & I watched a really terrible movie the other night. Of course, we’d had high hopes when it began – & when we heard someone comment in the show’s intro that it was one of the best 10 movies ever, figured we were in for a really rare treat.
It started off badly (dialogue & plot that were impossible to decipher), then it grew worse (gratuitous violence like you wouldn’t believe), & yet there we sat, & sat, & sat … ultimately watching the whole darn pitiful thing.
We both gave serious thought to turning the TV off, yet just as clearly, did not do so. We sat & watched that whole darn miserable two-&-a-half-hour turkey.
Now, I am not a TV-watcher, & compared to most folks I know, watch very few movies (reading is my chief addiction). I have heard that watching television puts our brain waves into a zombie-like mode. I guess you could say quite accurately that we’re not really fully human when we sit in front of the boob tube (or "idiot box," as my Dad used to call it when I was a kid).
[Alice Walker has said, “I’m always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.”]
And it occurs to me that it’s no bloody wonder our world is going to hell in a handbasket (I always get a bit of a chuckle out of putting it that way) while we sit in our easy chairs & watch it go down.
Our brains have been turned to mush by that lovely (not!) blue-ray-emitting box. We’re mesmerised by the daily dose of violence, mayhem, natural disaster & celebrity-gawking that parades itself as news.
It does not motivate us to get up off our keesters & do something.
We’re like the proverbial deer, caught in the headlights.
Reading mainstream newspapers is not a whole lot better. Violence! Disaster! Venal corporations & politicians! Natural disaster! Greed & corruption!
Turn the page…
Now, if watching our world…our society, our culture (civilization, if you prefer) go down the tubes – from a “safe” vantage point on the sidelines (safe; hah!) – is something you actively enjoy, far be it from me to try & talk you out of it.
If, on the other hand, there is a little glimmer in your brain wondering whether this is really the way you want your life to continue, I’d say consider quitting the TV & news game cold turkey & diving into … activism (activism is apparently a dirty word to some folks, but it seems to me it just means…being active!)
I’m not going to suggest to you that activism will “save the world.” After a lifetime of trying to save the world, I’ve finally had to grudgingly accept that it probably cannot be saved.
It can, however, be changed – & that’s exactly what I’ll continue to focus my energies on.
p.s. Why bother, when the outcome is so…uncertain, or even terrifying? Two reasons:
- The outcome is uncertain & potentially terrifying whether or not we choose to act. Our actions do at least have the potential to render the world – & our own lives – a teensy bit less unpredictable & terrifying. And they are enjoyable, too – very likely a good deal more enjoyable & fun than just sitting in front of a darn box that spews the most appalling nonsense at us.
- For me, there is simply no other game in town! Just working & making money for its own sake have just plain never, as they say, turned my crank. Activism is its own reward – just like virtue!
p.p.s. I listen to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio enough to catch enough of the news that I really need to catch. I even give the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting $5 a month from my exceedingly teeny-tiny monthly income to help them advocate on the CBC’s (& our) behalf. We Canadians would be in bad shape indeed without the CBC!?!?!? (& btw, if I wasn't already donating a larger monthly sum to 3 other groups in automatic donations, I'd give more to the Friends of the CBC!!)
p.p.p.s. Alternative media – such as Toronto’s Now Magazine – are a wonderful …alternative to the mainstream newspapers that seem increasingly irrelevant & out of touch. Now Magazine is very cool, & I’m very glad it exists (kinda hate all that pornography at the rear of the paper, but at least one can choose to avoid those pages.)
p.s. # 4: The blog posting Kill Your Television has a similar message…